It’s no surprise that we are running out of trails for equestrian use in Ontario. Thanks to urban sprawl and other factors, trails that used to be available to equestrians are disappearing. That is why I jump at the chance to support new distance rides in Ontario because if we don’t, these trails may disappear.
The OCTRA ride in beautiful Madawaska in the Canadian Shield has been running for three years. Here is my blog post from the first year. I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to go last year due to Splash’s head shaking issues but found myself a horse to ride there this year!
I’ve been competing a lovely Arabian/Morgan/quarter horse, Kree, this year thanks to an awesome connection in OCTRA and we rode all three days of the Madawaska ride.
The great thing about this ride is that there was something for everyone on each day. 13 mile set speed, 25 mile set speed, 25 mile limited distance, or 50 mile endurance. Even perfect for those in the US since this ride is fairly close to the border!
If you didn’t get a chance to make it out this year, you were missing out! From the catered meal on the first night that outdid many meals I’ve had at weddings to the awesome personalized prizes to the gorgeous scenery, this ride is not one to be missed!
Day 1 we rode the 27 mile set speed ride. This was Kree’s first “longer” ride as we had a mishap at Coates Creek where we were unable to finish what would have been his first 25 mile ride. Even though the terrain was pretty tough with the many rocks and hills, we rode it nice and slow (plus we were too busy looking around at the scenery), and completed the ride successfully.
Even though it was quite warm for this ride (like every other ride this year!!) there was lots of natural water on the trail to cool the horses down with and one vet check was even right on a river!
Day 2 we had planned to take Kree our on the shorter ride without his buddy as he’s been getting a little buddy sour about leaving this buddy behind. We paired up with another horse doing the same distance and off we went.
Even the shortest loop had a little bit of everything: hills, water crossings, lookouts over lakes.
Kree successfully completed this ride too but was just a tad sore from being tense and not using himself properly over the trails. With lots of massage and stretching, the soreness went away and we completed the third day, a 25 mile limited distance ride, with no issues!
The last day was my favourite as the loop took us to the lake where we had all gone swimming the day before. We took the horses in and played around for a bit before carrying on.
This ride needs to be on everyone’s “must attend” list next year. Beautiful trails, delicious food, next to no bugs, swimming, fishing, and ice cream for after the ride, great people. What more could you ask for!?